The 1-0 Baylor Bears continue the non-conference portion of their 2016 schedule by hosting SMU Saturday afternoon. The Mustangs, also 1-0, started their season off with a 34-21 victory at North Texas. The Mustangs struggled to a 2-10 campaign in 2015, starting with a loss to these Bears in Dallas. That 56-21 loss set the stage for a difficult season for first year coach Chad Morris. 2016 is off to a more promising start, and hopes are for an improved team.
"SMU is not an easy opponent, they’re going to give us their best shot. They have good receivers. One thing we have to take away is the explosive plays," said senior cornerback Ryan Reid. The Bears are expecting a much more competitive game than the one they got from Northwestern State Friday night in the opener.
One big loss already occurred though, as is it appears that senior quarterback Matt Davis will be out for the Baylor game, though Morris has not eliminated the chance of his starter playing. Could that be some gamesmanship from the second year coach? Possibly, but everyone will probably find out for sure on Saturday afternoon.
Offensively, the Mustangs are a team that prides themselves on big plays, either through the legs of Matt Davis or starting running back Xavier Jones, or through the air with Courtland Sutton making smaller defensive backs pay. The Mustangs averaged almost 28 points per game in 2015.They ranked in the 70s in both rushing and passing offense, showing the balanced approach that Chad Morris displayed at Clemson and Tulsa as the offensive coordinator.
The problem was on the other side of the ball, where they gave up almost 46. The stats were ugly. Over 5.8 yards per carry allowed and 241 passing yards per game. An incredible 7.1 yards allowed per play and over 6,000 yards given up in the 12 games. 46% of third downs and 59% of fourth downs were converted into first downs.78% of all drives in the redzone ended in a touchdown. 2016 sees the Mustangs get younger and more athletic all across the defense, in a hope to improve a unit that dragged them down. This Baylor game will show them how much they have improved, and how much more they have to go.
23/21 BAYLOR (1-0) vs. SMU (1-0)
Sept. 10, 2015 | 2:30 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | McLane Stadium (45,140)
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Baylor leads the all-time series 38-36-7 & 19-18-3 in Waco.
The Bears have won 12 straight games over SMU?and with 2014's victory took hold of the overall series lead for the 1st time since 1924.
Baylor is 11-2 in the $266 million McLane Stadium, with an average scoring margin of + 27.1 points.
Baylor is averaging 51.7 points per game and 619.4 yards per game in 2+ years at the riverfront stadium.
Including walk-ons, Baylor played a total of 29 freshmen in 2016 opener, 17 redshirt freshmen & 12 true freshmen.
Baylor is tied for the second-most wins (58) in FBS since 2010, only Alabama (62) and Florida State (58) can match.
Despite not forcing a turnover against Northwestern State, Baylor's defense allowed only 78 yards of offense to the Demons, which currently is the leading mark in the country. For the game, Baylor forced 13 punts and 11 3-and-outs.
Baylor has been ranked in 50 straight AP Polls, the 4th-longest streak nationally (Top 15 in 43 of last 45 polls).
Baylor has the nation's best home record since 2011 at 30-3.
Baylor is 19-5 vs. in-state schools over last 5 seasons and has won 12 of last 14 vs. Texas foes.
Quick Look at SMU
Location Dallas, Texas
Mascot Peruna IX (a Shetland pony)
School Colors Red (PMS 186) & Blue (PMS 286)
Conference American Athletic Conference
Stadium Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000)
President Dr. R. Gerald Turner
Director of Athletics Rick Hart
Head Football Coach Chad Morris
Overall Coaching Record 2-10
2015 American Record 1-7 (T-10th)
Offensive System Multiple
Defensive System 4-2-5
National Championships 3 (1935, 1981 & 1982)
Conference Championships 11 (last - 1984)
Bowl Appearances 15 (last - 2012 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl)
All-Time Football Record 471-511-54
First Football Season 1915
Offensive Starters Returning/Lost 9/2
Defensive Starters Returning/Lost 3/8
Letterwinners Returning/Lost 35/22
What Happened Last Time
The Bears rolled in the 2015 opener, a 56-21 win for the Bears. Baylor led by only by a single score, 28-21, at halftime. The SMU offense started off strong, scoring in under a minute to tie the game at 7. The Bears defense struggled mightily in the first half, while the offense was shutout in the second quarter. Poor tackles, bad angles, and some questionable penalties plagued the Bears in the first 30 minutes. However, a halftime adjustment by Phil Bennett and the Baylor staff of utilizing a 3-man front proved to swing the game with zero points allowed in the second half.
RealTimeRPI - 48-18
Massey - 49-21
TeamRankings.com - 54-22
Tim Watkins, BearsIllustrated.com - 52-31
This is a better SMU team than the one the Baylor Bears opened last year with. This might not be as good of a Baylor team, though it is too early to tell. That Baylor team was fully healthy, with Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham leading the way, and two of the most talented and experienced offensive and defensive lines in college football. However, this game is also in Waco, where the Bears are almost unbeatable (when they have a quarterback that is), but where they demolish teams. An average victory of over 27 points, and that includes the Big 12 games. Vegas has the line at 32.5, as of this writing. I think the Mustangs barely beat that, but not for a lack of talent. I expect the Bears deep passing game to get clicking in this one, with Chris Platt getting into the endzone on a 70+ yard touchdown. With fewer drives to score on, due to SMU actually having a capable offense, the Bears will have to keep scoring in the late 3rd and 4th quarters to hit 50 points and get a big win.
Kevin Barrera, BearsIllustrated.com - 59-24
SMU will be improved from last year, but that won't have much affect on the outcome of this game. Baylor is generally lights out at home and I don't see this game being any different. With questions at the QB position, SMU will need to lean on its running game a little should Freshman Ben Hicks get the start. The SMU defense is young and raw, but they do have some talent; however, the Baylor offense will be too much for the young SMU defense. Seth Russell will start fast and the offensive line will continue to gel. On defense, the Bears will suffocate the mustangs and force Hicks in to some early mistakes. The Bears will continue their growth towards conference play and come away with a big win Saturday.